In 2020, Hargrove celebrated 25 years in business. An important part of the Hargrove story is our Controls + Automation Team. While the Hargrove Controls + Automation division was officially created in 2013, process control has always had roots in the company DNA. For example, even as Hargrove was founded as an EPC (engineering, procurement, and construction) firm, Bryan Sargent, our Panel Shop Leader, was Teammate #2, and Bobby Bogh, an instrument and controls specialist, was Teammate #3.
In those early years, we saw how useful it was to have a controls and automation perspective even at the early stages of traditional EPC projects. As our company grew at a fast pace, it was increasingly difficult to subcontract systems integrators at sufficient quantity and quality to fill project needs. Hargrove’s own Controls + Automation Team was the answer.
While this team arose out of a need from our clients and their projects, having an in-house systems integration firm elevates Hargrove’s technological knowledge as a whole. Because Controls + Automation is focused on computer applications applied to client operations, they are the first to see and apply the technological advances of Industry 4.0, keeping the whole company more future focused. From cutting-edge cybersecurity best practices to digital twins that optimize a facility’s operations, our Controls + Automation Team keeps its eyes on how our clients can benefit from tools and practices at the forefront of technology.
Hargrove brings a skillset that bridges operations and engineering design. Our depth of knowledge across both engineering and automation disciplines guides us in making smart project decisions for overall operational effectiveness in the future.
When subcontracting a systems integrator, a stand-alone EPC firm may not engage that resource until the design is complete and programming is ready to begin. With controls experts as part of the team, we are able to get involved much sooner for seemingly smaller decisions that can have a big impact down the road. For example, early on in the project, our Controls + Automation Teammates can help make control system architecture decisions. We’re also able to engage with the engineering team to manage how to interface with and configure third party systems. Making these decisions early, with all phases of the project fully considered, reduces late changes in projects and is a cost savings for clients.
On the flip side, having the resources of the full EPC firm makes the Controls + Automation Team stronger. We have access to a range of disciplines that we would not have if we were a stand-alone controls systems integrator. If the Controls + Automation Team needs laser scanning expertise to determine a layout for cable routing, we have immediate access. This collaborative experience means that Hargrove’s Controls + Automation Team is able to see the big picture in a way that is rare for other systems integration firms. Our team knows when to bring in resources from our Process Engineering Team, our Safety Team, or our Construction Team to meet and exceed our clients’ needs.
The strength of the Hargrove Team is particularly evident with control system migration projects. Control system migration projects are largely automation-driven with complexity in the automation side, but there may also be work that needs to take place as part of the migration effort that would likely be de-scoped when working with a stand-alone systems integration company. For example, if a new control room or I/O room needs to be built, we have civil and structural engineers readily available. Similarly, if a process improvement is desired to take place at the same time as the migration, Hargrove can engage our full engineering team to design and implement those improvements.
Hargrove has the systems set up to support collaboration across the full company, which helps to reduce bumps along the project. The future of engineering is not passing back and forth spreadsheets and PDF files between disciplines and companies – but everyone engaging in one collaborative digital environment. This shared digital environment supports clean data and reduces errors. Controls + Automation Teammates have access to any information that was entered by any other discipline and can use it in their work without replicating it.
While the technical capabilities and cross functional benefits are numerous, the real magic is in Hargrove’s approach to relationships. Talk to any of our Teammates, and you’ll realize that the “no man is an island” mentality is foundational to our culture. Hargrove Teammates – across teams, disciplines, and locations – know each other and understand each Teammate’s capabilities and specialties. This means that there is no friction when leveraging the strength and expertise of the team.
This approach to relationships extends to our clients as well. We get to know our clients’ business needs to understand how their controls needs or project needs fit into the bigger picture, which helps us collaborate to design the best solution for each client’s unique situation. It allows us to deliver the right people to the right place at the right time. Our technical skills, while excellent, take a backseat to our relationships. We believe that technical competence should be a given; what makes a project come to life is the way the team works together with the client.
This cardinal prioritization of client needs helps explain why Hargrove has been on Inc.’s list of 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies for 13 years in a row. Controls + Automation has been no small part of that growth, jumping 17 slots from 40th to 23rd on the 2021 System Integrator Giants, compiled by CFE Media. Hargrove’s growth comes from working outside of the box and striving for mutual and sustained success for our clients, whether with EPC projects or full-service systems integration. We are One Team!